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Inside Pediatrics Podcast

Birmingham, Ala. (June 26, 2024) — The Fourth of July holiday is approaching. While families are planning to celebrate, experts warn parents to pay close attention if their celebrations include fireworks or sparklers.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 10,000 people were treated in emergency departments for fireworks injuries in 2022. Eleven fireworks-related deaths were reported in 2022. 

“Around the Fourth of July, we see a lot of small burns come through the emergency department at Children’s of Alabama,” said Sue Rowe, the charge nurse at the Burn Center at Children’s. “The burns come from holding fireworks or sparklers too close to their fingers or other body parts.”

Rowe says these injuries can result from fireworks that have not finished exploding or children getting into unused fireworks while unsupervised. Some of these injuries are severe, resulting in permanent health problems.

“I think the safest thing is to make sure children are supervised if they are around fireworks,” said Rowe. “Also, keep a safe distance; keep spectators and friends away from the immediate area.”

Lighting fireworks at home is illegal in some communities. Check with your local police or fire department to see if it is legal in your neighborhood. If fireworks are legal where you live and you are planning to include them in your festivities, some other safety advice for you to consider is never trying to make your own fireworks, keeping fireworks away from anything that causes a fire, and not allowing children to pick up the pieces of fireworks after an event.  Some of those pieces may still be ignited and can explode at any time. 

Rowe reminds parents to have a bucket of water, a garden hose, or a fire extinguisher nearby if they are handling fireworks. She says if an injury occurs, you need to immediately put some cool water on it, and if it is a significant injury, head to the nearest emergency department. She says the cool water tends to calm the burn down some.

Some family celebrations may include sparklers. Although they may seem less dangerous, as Rowe explains, sparklers can get very hot—as hot as 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit—and cause an intense burn on a child. 

So, how do you celebrate the Fourth of July safely?

“If you don’t want to do fireworks, there are other ways to celebrate,” said Rowe. “You can use a glow stick or silly string. Some families have decided to hold a birthday party to celebrate the country’s birthday. These are all different options than just actually using fireworks.”

For more information on summer safety, click here.